gp

Wednesday

Baby care and food

Breast milk is the perfect food for a baby, it contains all the nutrition your baby needs for the six months, with the added bonus of antibodies and other properties important to baby’s health and development. Health authorities recommend that you breastfeed your baby for at least six months if possible.

1. Infant formula is the only suitable alternative to breastmilk. It is modified to meet baby’s needs and must always be mixed according to the directions on the container.
2. Babies don’t need to start on other foods until they are ready which is normally around the age of six months. The ideal first food is a baby cereal mixed with baby’s regular milk, followed by fruit and vegetable purees introduced one at a time. In the beginning baby needs to be offered his regular milk (breast or formula) before he is offered solids.
3. Introduce lumpy foods after three to five weeks of pureed food. Gradually make it more and more lumpy because this will help baby learn to chew even if she has no teeth. Add finger foods to baby’s diet around about eight months. By the time baby reaches her first birthday she should be eating regular family food with some modifications. Ready made baby food in cans, jars or frozen is ideal as an occasional meal but is not suitable for everyday use.
4. Keep meal times relaxed, offer baby a variety of healthy choices and never force him to ‘eat up’. If he is hungry you can always offer him more.
5. Babies don’t need sugary foods, salty, fatty foods or fast foods. Low fat foods are also not acceptable, baby needs nutritious choices.
6. Soft drinks are not suitable for babies or toddlers. Milk and water are all baby needs with occasional juice drinks, watered down 50/50. At meal times baby should be offered water to drink.
7. Iron and calcium are important nutrients in a baby’s diet. Iron can be found in breast milk, lean meat, chicken, eggs, fish, legumes, fortified baby cereals, wholegrain cereals, dried fruits and dark green leafy vegetables. Calcium is found in breast milk and infant formula, dairy products, calcium fortified soy products, tinned sardines and salmon.
8. Learn to read the labels on food you buy in the supermarket. Ingredients are listed in order with the greatest quantity first. If you find ingredients you would not normally put into your baby’s meal then don’t buy the product.
9. Be careful when you prepare the family’s food. Always wash your hands before handling food and keep raw and cooked foods separate. You can find out more about hygiene and food.